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Metabolic Syndrome Linked to Cognitive Decline

A recent study found that mature adults with risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome appear to have a significant increase in the risk of memory loss.

The study was conducted by researchers at the French National Institute of Health Research in Bordeaux, France and their findings were published in the February 2011 issue of the journal Neurology.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that include obesity, hypertension, high levels of blood lipids and high blood sugar. People suffering from metabolic syndrome are at a much higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and suffering a heart attack.

The American Heart Association defines metabolic syndrome as having three or more of the following:

1. A waistline greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women

2. Good (HDL) cholesterol under 40mg/dL for men or 50mg/dL for women

3. Triglyceride levels over 150mg/dL

4. Blood pressure over 130/85mm Hg or the use of blood pressure medicine

5. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein

6. Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance

The researchers analyzed data on over 7,000 people over 65 years of age for the study. 16% of those participants had metabolic syndrome.

The researchers conducted memory tests, word fluency tests and visual learning tests. They found that participants with metabolic syndrome were 20% more likely to have age related cognitive decline on the memory test. They were also 13% more likely to show cognitive impairment on the visual test.

Based on these findings, the researchers conclude that management of metabolic syndrome may help slow age-related memory loss and possibly delay the onset of dementia.

Getting sufficient exercise and following a healthy diet are the best ways to avoid developing metabolic syndrome.

In terms of keeping your mind sharp, there are a number of foods which have been found to combat cognitive decline including blueberries and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish. Research has also shown that keeping your mind active as you age by reading, socializing and doing puzzles can also be effective at reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

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